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National Outdoor Initiative

What is the National Outdoor Initiative?

The National Outdoor Initiative is a coalition of diverse organizations who seek to improve the personal, economic, and environmental health of Canadians and Canada through advocacy for outdoor education and activity in the natural environment.

Why do we Need a Coalition?

In theory Canadians love Nature, but in practice most have a weak and conflicted relationship with the natural and urban outdoor spaces. This conflicted love negatively influences how Canadians create policy and allocate resources. The results undermine our personal, economic, and environmental health.

Effects include:                          

  • Sedentary behaviour: countries with outdoor-active cultures are twice as active as Canada.
  • Rising levels of physical and psychological disease among Canadians of all ages.
  • Canadian adults have largely lost the ability to support our children in getting the outdoor learning, activity and challenge they need to be healthy.
  • Canada over-invests in motorized infrastructure because Canadians are uncomfortable with active-transportation.
  • Canadians tend oppose to low-carbon policies that might force them out of their cars.
  • Increased levels of poverty and inequality because the children of the wealthy have better access to outdoor activity and education, and because car-culture disproportionately affects the poor.

The cultural narrative about the outdoors is conflicted because we have allowed our conversations to be shaped by chance. Historically, for most Frontier Canadians nature was a hostile force to be overcome, an attitude that many took with them to the city. Today negative attitudes and beliefs are amplified by the seductions of convenience culture and sensationalized stories of back-country accidents.

Cultural narratives matter enormously. A positive narrative is a powerful tool that shapes public opinion; identifies which personal and community objectives are important; and mobilize the resources needed to achieve those objectives.

If your organization's mission includes environmental sustainability, health and wellness, outdoor activity or education, poverty reduction, or urban renewal, Canada's Conflicted Outdoor Narrative is negatively impacting your ability to achieve your goals.

What Will the Coalition do?

  • Together we can create a single voice to advocate for a positive outdoor narrative that enables our organizations to get public support for our initiatives. (think what Sport Canada does for sport).
  • By bringing such a diverse group of progressive organizations under one roof we will discover new ways of working together, sharing ideas, and supporting each other.
  • We can create the critical mass required to advocate for progressive policies on a wide range of issues.

Ready to Join?

You can find out how to join the coalition by clicking here Join the NOI

Want to know more?
Call Albi at 403-710-5799, or email at





“The OCC is one positive way to curb “nature-deficit disorder". Everywhere, we are being told by researchers and practitioners that time in nature with nurturing adults is more than just positive to the lives of children, rather it is essential to health and well-being. The OCC has a program that provides the tools and inspiration to get adults helping kids get outdoors again in constructive ways.“

-Bob Henderson McMaster University 1981-2010, Adjunct Professor- Brock University


“The OCC fills an important niche that more of us need to utilize and learn from as they offer solid ways to re-establish the connection educators have with nature. The power of taking kids outdoors for both lifelong physical and mental health is (these days) a mostly untapped educational resource. […] The OCC supports educators to have greater accountability for safety, outdoor skills and in providing fun and wonderful experiences outside. Beyond all of that, the OCC offers support by visiting schools, presenting at educational professional development sessions and by answering countless emails in order to best support the growth of outdoor education. Contrary to popular belief, the best learning does not take always place within the tight constraints of our classrooms!”

-Kim Kendal, Outdoor Teacher


© Outdoor Council of Canada

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